Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

City Officials Consider Emergency Generators For Wastewater Pump Systems

The City Council's Natural Resources and Culture Committee will consider today a plan to purchase emergency generators for wastewater pump systems to prevent spills such as the ones that occurred during last September's region-wide power outage.

The city's Public Utilities Department is proposing seven 2,000-kilowatt generators for four pump stations and a water reclamation plant at an estimated cost of $7.9 million. The pump stations that overflowed during the Sept. 8 outage are among those that would receive the generators.

Installation, which is scheduled for July 2013, would cost an extra $4.6 million . The department also proposes spending $3.8 million in case the generators require emission controls to meet state air quality guidelines.


The wastewater system has 82 pump stations, 60 of which have backup electrical power available on site. The backup systems of the two stations that failed are also tied into San Diego Gas & Electric lines, a concept that failed on the day of the blackout.

The late-afternoon outage began in Arizona but cascaded through the power grid to also affect San Diego County and part of northern Baja California, leaving millions in the dark.

Without power, about 2.6 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Sorrento Valley from one station and eventually flowed to Los Penasquitos Creek. Another 870,000 gallons spilled from the other station into the Sweetwater River.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.